Sunday, July 30, 2006

Good And Bad Americans

I did two stints today, as I never went out on Friday night. The World Matchplay Darts semi-final was on TV and I stayed in to watch it with my son Michael.

I was out by 11am this morning after I dropped my son off at work and was in the work myself almost straight away. It wasn’t too hot today either so all in all it was quite a pleasant shift.

I was down by Buckingham Palace and Wellington Barracks and it was packed with tourists. Some sort of ceremonial was going on because the Coldstream Guards were doing their thing on their parade ground. I could hear the Sergeant Major screaming his head off at the soldiers while they were going through their disciplines. I snatched a picture but it doesn’t show too much.

Tourists at the Queen Victoria Memorial

Soldiers at Welligton Baracks

Before I write this next bit I just have to say how at least 50% if not more of my passengers are American. I’ve noticed that a lot of my posts contain accounts of journeys with Americans because they are always more vocal than everybody else, that’s all I’m gonna say.

So, I picked up this American from Paddington Station and he asked for a residence in Jermyn Street and he specifically said “the Regent Street end”. So off I went and all was fine until we hit solid traffic in…Regent Street. He decided to pipe up. “Wouldn’t it have been better to go down through Duke Street St James’s and avoid all this crap?” I replied with “ If you hadn’t of said for me to go to the Regent Street end that’s the way I would’ve taken you” “Oh so it’s my fault we’re stuck in traffic?” he snapped. “Well it ain’t mine mate,” I snapped back. It was at this point that he lost his cool and came back at me with “You guys are supposed to know all the short cuts and roads to avoid traffic. You know what? Fuck this shit, let me out I’ll walk, it’s quicker.” The fare was £10.80 and he handed over two £5 notes I never bothered to ask him for the rest. D’you see how a situation can develop out of nothing? I went his way and then he turned it all around to make it my fault. There sure are some highly-strung people out there.

About two hours ago I picked up three more Americans from Chelsea and they asked to go to Brixton. I asked them whereabouts in Brixton and they said St. Mathew’s Church and added, “We’re going to mass”. I knew they were joking because there is a club there in the crypt, which has live bands on every weekend. They then started asking me if Brixton was safe. I told them that Brixton was in some ways like Harlem NYC, but as long as they stayed together and didn’t venture in to the backwaters they’d be fine. This un-nerved them a bit and they wanted more information. “What do you mean like we might get attacked with knives or guns?” I shouldn’t really have said anything at all because it’s really not as bad as that but they were definitely in two minds whether to continue to their destination. Then one of them said, “you must think we’re a bunch of pussies the way we’re acting” to which I had a good laugh and told them they really would be fine. They asked if I would come back later and pick them up but I said I would be safely tucked up in my bed by then. When we got there the place was brightly lit and there were people of all descriptions strolling around the church grounds enjoying the cool evening breeze. They commented that it looked Ok and paid me off and gave me a £2 tip on top.

I picked up two Eastern European ladies from Edgware Road and took them to Kensington. One of them looked worried about something and they were whispering in their language. I can understand and get by with a few European languages such as Spanish, French and Italian but definitely not Bosnian or Serbian or whatever else they were talking. When we got to their destination one of them asked me how they would go about contacting the police. I told them to dial 999 or simply go into a police station. I asked one of them what was wrong and she said that they’d been walking in Oxford Street earlier in the day when a man had involved himself in their business and touched them up sexually. I told them they should have started screaming the place down but they didn’t look like they had it in them to do that. They still wanted to go and report it but I said it would be no use as the police would need lots of info (which they never had) to proceed with a line of inquiry. They paid me and walked away totally bewildered with the whole situation. I’m sure lots of big cities are the same but I can’t help thinking that London leads the way in the “sick people” stakes and is getting worse all the time. It might be a good idea for all ladies to carry some sort of anti-attack spray like mace or pepper spray when walking around town by themselves. Or better still don’t walk around and take a cab!


DC Cab Rider said...

Definately sounds like you get an interesting variety of folks. Do you take folks around the city for tours for a set amount from time to time like they do here?

london_cabby said...

Thats more a day thing. I haven't done a tour for years.